It became such a tired cliché that many of us, myself included, began to dismiss it, because it was recited as almost an article of faith: The Bulls can’t win the East/title because they haven’t taken their lumps yet. No playoff experience. Haven’t gone through the fire. Essentially, they haven’t lost the playoff games that matter yet, so they can’t win them until they do.
On the surface, it seems so dumb and devoid of logic. Old fashioned, even. But watching the last two games of this series has proved it true (not that it was ever false, if you look back through the years). The Bulls, despite shooting abysmally and looking offensively stagnant at times, continue to find themselves in the game at the end, and continue to have poor possessions and make the types of mistakes that they didn’t make for an entire regular season.
That’s the playoffs – everything’s magnified as possessions get compressed and the margin for error disappears. There’s something unquantifiable about the possessions in the final 3:00 of the game that induces the feeling in anyone watching that the Heat will capitalize on their opportunities, and the Bulls won’t.
The Bulls will probably win Game 5, because this has all the hallmarks of a game the NBA would like them to win, and then we’ll likely see the same thing in Miami again – grinding and scrapping all the way to the home stretch, and then a stumble at the most inopportune time.